Six (6) Android Games You Should Play Now not Tomorrow

Got a new device? You need to get some new games. Here are some quick recommendations for great Android games. Some are familiar from other platforms. Some are free. Some are paid, and some have specific hardware requirements. All are listed here.
1.  Minecraft Pocket Edition
Why it is great: Minecraft is an entertaining block-building and survival game. You can play either in creative mode where you build and invent things in your own randomly generated world or you can play in survival mode where you use your wits and resources to survive against the creepers who come out at night.
Note – this does not connect with your main Minecraft account if you play the computer version of the game.
Play for yourself or keep it around to entertain kids. (Turn off in-app purchases if you do this.)
Minecraft is a paid app ($6.99) but you can find occasional sales, in-app purchases run from $0.50 to $1.99.   More »
2.  Lara Croft Go
Based on the popular Tomb Raider series and developed by Square Enix, Lara Craft Go is a relatively simple but very addictive puzzle game you can take with you. The puzzles are designed for short bursts of play, so pull it out in the doctor’s office waiting room or while riding the bus home.
Lara Croft Go sells for $4.99 but is occasionally on sale for $0.99. It allows in-app purchases. If you like this game, you can also check out Hitman Go, which is also from Square Enix.  More »
3.  Buttons and Scissors
This is a free puzzle game where you try to cut matching color buttons off of a square of denim. Mechanically this feels similar to Bejeweled, but not completely the same. The logic puzzles offer great challenges for players of all ages.
The other big advantage to this game is that it does not require any connectivity. You can play this game on devices that aren’t connected to Wi-Fi or in that signal dead spot.
Buttons and Scissors is a free download but allows in-app purchases.  More »
 Did you want to try out the new trend in adult coloring books, but you don’t want to carry around coloring pencil and a coloringb book? Try out this app instead. It’s appropriate for kids or adults, and while it’s not the same as coloring in an actual coloring book, it is still very satisfying.
Mandala Coloring Pages is free (with ads) but also allows in-app purchases.  More »
Yes. You can play an Android version of Portal. This is a real console game. As such, it requires a real console. This version will only work on the Nvidia Shield version of Android TV.  The Nvidia Shield starts at around $199 but allows you to stream movies and play Android games on your TV.
Portal starts at $1.99 but this is “introductory pricing.”  More »
If you have a phone with a fast processor and terrific screen display, you can take it for a ride with this virtual reality game. This is a first-person shooter where you aim at balloons. You’ll need Google Cardboard. This is an inexpensive accessory that you can either make or buy for around $15 and will turn your phone into a virtual reality device. Obviously not a game you can play while waiting in a doctor’s office (unless your doctor is awesome) but a fun novelty game to play by yourself or after having one of your friends try on the headset.
VR Cardboard Shooter 3D is a free download.  More »

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 a commission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own.
 We do not receive payment for positive reviews.

Gamification. Buzzword or the next big thing?

Remember those little gold stars you used to get in elementary school when you did something well? Most kids strive to achieve those stars, even though they have no real value. So, why do teachers reward students with them? And why do students like to receive them?

Whatever psychological motivations drive students to achieve gold stars is exactly what the gamification trend is trying to exploit. Gamification is the use of game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics in a non-gaming context. Reward, recognition, a sense of accomplishment, competitiveness, ambition, pure fun—all of these factors come into play with gamification, but touching on them isn’t the real goal. Gamification is really about influencing behavior toward specific, measurable outcomes.

Despite the current hype surrounding gamification, industry analysts are predicting rapid adoption. Gartner estimates that by 2014, more than 70 percent of Global 2,000 organisations will have at least one “gamified” application. But what does it mean to
  “gamify”? Does it provide any real value?

 What’s in a game?
The basic concept underlying gamification is reward for action. Some criticise the hype saying it’s just a new name for practices that have been in use for decades. There is some truth to this; companies have long used strategies to incentivise customers, such as loyalty programs, sales and coupons. However, the behaviors driven by such strategies tend to be more transactional than permanent.

Gamification, on the other hand, is intended to drive deeper, longer term engagement. Whereas a coupon might help clear out last year’s inventory of winter coats, gamification strives to turn those transactions into relationships. And that means providing rewards that are more meaningful to players, like social status, career advancement or financial gain. This could apply to both internal and external audiences—whoever’s behavior you are trying to influence.

Analytics are key
For some pundits, gamification’s unfortunate moniker is too silly to be taken seriously. And it seems to cause some confusion as well. “People think it’s about having fun, but it’s really about measurement and change,” says Charlie Bess, an HP Fellow. “Fun can be one of its strengths, but that depends on the culture of the organisation.”

While a gamified app or process can be fun, the focus is really on creating a structure or system in which analytics can be applied to measure and influence user behavior. Gamification provides a context for collecting user data, and also reflecting some of that data back to users to further motivate desired behavior. It also provides meaningful metrics to business leaders, ensuring that objectives are being met and letting them know in advance if changes are required.

“With all the analytic capabilities available, organisations can apply a basic behavioral understanding to objectives and goals to adjust the behavior of the audience and achieve a desired future,” says Bess. In other words, the “game” aspects should follow a clear articulation of specific, measurable goals. Sometimes it may be the goals or the way that organisations are trying to accomplish them that need to change.

From processes to products
Gamification can apply to any business context in which you are trying to affect specific behavior or structured change, either internally or externally to your business. “The only limit is your imagination,” says Bess. Gamification isn’t dependent on a particular type of technology or process. It’s simply applying the aspects that make games motivating and fun to non-gaming contexts to achieve engagement that fulfills specific goals.

Let’s say that your goal is to improve the metrics of your call center. You might create a “game” that tracks the closed tickets per employee as a kind of race. Prizes or special status can be awarded to “players” who achieve set milestones. With this “game,” you could influence employees to improve the call center, while also pursuing their own personal advancement. Note that it is critical to understand what motivates the people in that role—individuals are not all motivated in the same way.

In the consumer space, an athletic company could create an exercise app designed to let users record and track their fitness goals, and share their success, challenges and progress with other users. While the user is working toward a very personal goal—fitness—they’re also engaging in a long-term, meaningful relationship with the company’s brand. As a result they might buy more of the company’s products or even become a brand advocate.

Gamification: The next big thing?
So, where is all this going? Despite the media coverage and analysts’ lofty predictions, adoption of gamification techniques has been relatively modest. And because gamification is a somewhat abstract concept (and one that requires innovation and creativity to apply), many businesses that are interested in gamification are still trying to figure out best uses and practices.

“I see the opportunity for gamification practices to be heavily adopted because they’re so foundational to what business and employees both want and need to do,” says Bess. Indeed, most gamification scenarios present a win-win. Business gets something it needs. Users (whether employees or customers) get something in return, however tangible or intangible that reward may be.

Disclosure: This page may contain external affiliate links that may result in us receiving
 a commission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own.
 We do not receive payment for positive reviews.

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